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  • Writer's pictureAngela Erickson


How NOT to do it!

(Update: Now I'm being told that you may not need ArriveCan... it just expedites the process. 🤣)

While I was staying at Birch Bay (Blaine, WA) I decided to tackle “crossing the border into another country on my own” while simultaneously “visit Vancouver”. TWO bucket lists checked! Easy peasy right? Just tripping across to Canada. Epic Fail.

I will tell you about Vancouver in another blog, but let me tell you how NOT to cross the border into Canada.

First of all, do a bit of research. I was trying to see the Peace Arch and cross there. Who KNEW there were several crossings right there at Blaine? I do now. I asked the front desk, what do I need? Simple they said, your passport and your covid record. What they failed to mention is that you have to download an app called ArriveCAN. Good to know.

I got a late start as it was supposed to rain, but as typical PNW weather goes, it cleared right up and was sunny. So I grabbed my passport and covid card and off I went. I put something intelligent in the GPS like “border crossing” and zoomed away, all optimistic like.

I come around the corner and there it is! But golly, there are a lot of lanes and they are not marked. I am following a semi-truck and had to abruptly stop behind him. Because he did. And then he is backing up into me! Seems like he needed to check his ArriveCAN or something because now he wants to back up and park at a truck stop right there at border. As I am backing up too, a little car goes zooming past me and the truck and off to the border. So I followed. Car chats with guard and zips away. I get to the window and give the guard a big smile and a big “good morning!” despite his scowl. I try to hand him my two cool pieces of paper, but he is not playing. This is how our conversation went:

Guard: Why are you coming into Canada?

Me: I want to check out Vacouver!

Guard: As a tourist?

Me: Well, duh, I think…but say, er…yea?

Guard: Can’t you read?

Me: Rude. Er….yea?

Guard: He points to sign above that says something along the line of Trucks/Commercial only. Are you a truck?

Me: Confusion. Er…no?

Guard: Do you have Commercial Dealings ?

Me: Er…no?

Guard: Then why are you in my line?

Me: Errrrrr??? I followed that car! I point down the empty highway.

Guard: Scowl, shake of irritated head. Let me see your ArriveCAN.

Me? Errrr….my what?

Growl…Done with me. Points to official buildings with all of the flags…go there! Well crap.

I park and wander into one of the several buildings hoping I am not going the wrong way and will be tackled. I find an office with a row of fellows behind plexi- glass and get in front of them. A line with nobody there, but they make me wait anyway. Nobody looks up for quite a while, then one looks up and waves me up to window. What is the problem he says? I really don’t know so I shrug and say I am supposed to have something called Arrive something something? I apologize and tell him I DID ask my hotel how to do this…BTW..hotel staff losing points at this moment. He explains the app and tells me to go download it and complete it. It has you load a pic of your passport and info about Covid shots (at the time), you have to make a good guess as to time and day you will be crossing, and effectively they are waiting for you. I go through the motions and when it gets to the question as to what border crossing I am at…I am stumped. I get back into “line” and wait for a bit…he waves me up. Which crossing am I at I ask? He says… What are your options? Holy crap. He does not know where he works. BTW, it was not the Peace Arch…that is just around the corner Poker face I do not have. I show him my options and he reluctantly guesses. Now I push Go! And get the spinny ball of death. For a long long time. I get back in “line”. He finally looks up, annoyed, now what? I seem to need WIFI to make this connect I say, do you have WIFI? He gives me an earnest look and says “you do not need WIFI

, you just need the internet.” Poker Face I do not have. Okey dokey. Any chance, you could tell me where to get, errr. The internet? Are you coming from the US? Poker face I do not have. Is he teasing me? There is only one other country past that gate. Errrr….yes! Well I have seen Americans walk back towards the border and get the internet. Okey dokey. I walk through a trucking yard, waving my phone in the air like I just don’t care. Practically crawled up the fence, looking at the US and wonder if this is even worth it, but not sure how to get back over there now…and yes! Finally! Click! I am on the schedule to enter!!

Now what? I am technically past the border in a gated security area. Reluctantly I go back and get “in line” again. After a bit he looks up, scowls, waves me up with a sigh. I proudly show him I have my arrival time accepted…which is now. He abruptly walks off, prints off a “ticket” and gives to me. You have been too much trouble already, I am not going to send you back to the border. Go through the employee parking lot and out the gate. It will open for you. Are you kidding? Nope. And it did.

And 2 hours later I am on my way!!!!

So: Take your passport, Covid Card and please download the ArriveCAN.

Good news…Vancouver is totally worth it. Look at my other blog to read about that! I wasted so much time at the border I didn’t get to see but one thing on my list, but I will go back. I may take the train though, and miss all of that fun next time. 😊

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Apr 22, 2023

This is so comical, but sounds painful also. Good advice though-thanks. 😀


Apr 21, 2023

To make it more confusing. You no longer need the ArriveCan app to get in.

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